Book review: Sail Away Whitesnake’s Fantastic Voyage by Martin Popoff

Sail Away: Whitesnake's Fantastic Voyage

Soundcheck Books

Martin Popoff has written a few books in his time, this is his 45th, and this one covers Whitesnake up to and including their hair metal years. The author has some interesting insight from recent interviews with Micky Moody, Neil Murray and Bernie Marsden. Although Bernie Marsden has reconnected with David Coverdale (Coverdale guests on Marsden’s album released last year), Micky Moody still seems to have some historic issues. Neil Murray provides insightful commentary, especially around the time of the ‘Slide It In’ album as at one stage the band was just himself and David Coverdale!

The late 70′s/early 80′s Whitesnake was a far different beast than what followed and they made some classic albums including ‘Come An’ Get It’ and ‘Ready An’ Willing’. The book also shows how the band had two musical camps, with the former Deep Purple members and the three who had never been in that band.

‘Slide It In’ was a confusing album by anyone’s standards trying to see who played on what as you had a UK and US edition of that album. Plus there was the ongoing battle of egos between Coverdale and John Sykes. Also entering the picture back in 1983 was the Geffen label and John Kalodner, who helped modernise the band’s image as he did with Aerosmith and other rock acts in the 1980′s. The interviews with Kalodner are interesting, although his time with Whitesnake seems to have taken its toll on him!

Of course the ’1987′/’Whitesnake’ was a massive seller, especially in the US and Popoff covers this amply in the book. Who can forget those videos made at great expense, both financial and personal (Coverdale’s now ex-wife featured in most of them and she led to Vivian Campbell leaving the band as she didn’t get on with his wife!).

Funny how the band’s line-up was mainly picked on image and suitability for a MTV video and luckily they gelled musically. The follow-up album ‘Slip Of The Tongue’ didn’t do as well, plus Steve Vai was all over that one as Adrian Vadenburg had an injured hand. The band stopped shortly after that album and resulting tour.

The book only briefly covers the Coverdale/Page album of 1993, the solo/Whitesnake albums released namely ‘Restless Heart’ and the criminally underrated ‘Into The Light’. A brief mention to of the current ‘Snake who continue to tour and release a new album every few years.

One downside is the author does not have a recent interview with the mainman himself, although like a lot of biographies you do wonder if the main person is waiting until they write their own memoirs.

If you are a fan Martin Popoff’s book provides an insight into the classic blues rock era of the band and the more US hair metal approach the band adopted in the mid-late 80′s. He has a easy writing style and provides his own critique of each album as the book progresses. Well worth a read.

Review by Jason Ritchie

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